Lefevere says Boonen can take on Cavendish and challenge a weakened Columbia train
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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Lefevere says Boonen can take on Cavendish and challenge a weakened Columbia train

by Conal Andrews at 7:15 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling

Tom Boonen has recently talked down his chances in bunch sprints, saying that he planned to focus instead on time trials, but his Quick Step manager Patrick Lefevere still believes in the Belgian champion’s fast-twitch fibres.

Boonen took his first win of the season on yesterday’s third stage of the Tour of Qatar, outsprinting 96 others to the line, and clocked up just under 73 kilometres per hour in the gallop. That is one km/h less than the maximum speed he recorded earlier in his career, yet ranks higher as the previous mark was wind-assisted.

The 29 year old was eclipsed by other sprinters in last year’s Tour, netting a best placing of 16th before withdrawing from the race. He had initially not been permitted to enter due to a repeat cocaine positive, but ultimately got the green light after a lengthy legal challenge.

Yesterday’s result shows that he is back on track and, according to Lefevere, his rival Mark Cavendish won’t have things easy this year.

“Generally I belive that the sprints will be more open in 2010,” he told DH.be. “Look at Columbia: Boasson Hagen and Hincapie, two guys very valuable for Cavendish, have left and many teams have changed with the arrival of new squads such as Sky. The sprints might be less predictable, more turbulent, because I don’t see who can impose his train in the final.”

Cavendish is further hampered by the sidelining of Mark Renshaw due to the Epstein-Barr virus. He hopes to be back in time for the Tour de France but that is not certain. Columbia has floated the possibility that André Greipel could instead step in and fill that role. It remains to be seen how well they could work together, especially as there has been friction between them in the past.

Whatever happens, Lefevere still believes that Boonen has it in him to win another Maillot Vert. “The Tour de France passes through Belgium and that is obviously very important for us. For stage victories, but also for the green jersey. If I remember correctly, it was not Cavendish who won last year,” he said, suggesting that nothing is a foregone conclusion.


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